Margot Franssen ‘sad’ to sell Body Shop Canada

Body Shop Canada co-owner Margot Franssen said in an interview from her Toronto office that while the deal to sell to London-based Body Shop International PLC is not a fait accompli, she expects the sale to go ahead and an announcement from BSI detailing financial terms to be made by July 15, reported The Globe and Mail June 25. The development comes five years after the owners first informed franchisees and staff that they were contemplating retirement and, in turn, pondering the sale of the chain.

“It’s incredibly sad,” she said, adding that while she looks forward to retirement, she will remain busy. She is currently the co-president of the Canadian Women’s Foundation, an honorary member of York University’s Board of Governors and a director of the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce. She’s also looking forward to spending quality time with her husband. Her three teenage children will be moving out of their house this fall (two are going to boarding school and one is at university in Halifax).

The Toronto Star noted June 25 that over the years, Body Shop International made its mark through social and environmental campaigns, from saving the rain forest to recycling and anti-globalization. But Franssen said that she’s most proud of the one the Canadian company launched – Stop Violence Against Women – in 1994. It earned her the Order of Canada and the United Nations Grand Award. Since then, Body Shop Canada has raised more than $1 million for programs that prevent violence against women, and the campaign was adopted by the UK parent.

The deal on segregated funds

The cost of owning insurance-backed segregated funds has escalated so quickly since the late 1990s that they have become a luxury many investors can’t afford, reported The Globe and Mail June 25. Someone has done the research on exactly how much the insurance part of a segregated fund should cost. Moshe Milevsky, a finance professor at York University’s Schulich School of Business, crunched the numbers using statistical models developed for options, and determined that a fair price for a 10-year guarantee on an equity growth fund is an extra 0.45 percentage points in fees, or $45 a year on a $10,000 investment. Any more and you’re probably getting ripped off; any less and you’re getting a good deal.

‘Always a place for originality’

Two Shots, York music grad Matt Dusk’s new debut CD, includes a unique, slow rhumba take on The Beatles’ early hit Please Please Me, along with more conventional fare like Fly Me To The Moon. He finds a suave, velvet tone that clearly pays tribute to Sinatra, Tony Bennett and other classic male singers who have bridged the gap between pop and jazz, wrote an Edmonton Journal reviewer June 25. It’s not by chance that Dusk recently wound up on a new television reality show “The Casino”, set in Las Vegas, legendary stomping grounds of Sinatra and the “Rat Pack”. This new Canadian talent started singing in church choirs and took classical training before he started trying his voice on standards and making his own independent records. “I was singing this music before it was actually considered the new hip thing to do, and when I first started singing in clubs younger people really loved this music. You can’t bury or kill a classic.” Dusk – who earned a bachelor of fine arts in 2002 from York – brings a quintet with him on this, his first cross-country tour. He said regardless of how music trends and audiences may go, he knows he will still be singing 10 years from now, trying to develop his own stylistic niche. “There’s always a place for originality in jazz singing. Of course you might not get as many gigs or whatever if you’re a real original but I would rather be an original than a star any day.”

York grad chalks up many firsts

Lawyer Sandra Chaytor has packed a lot of firsts into her petite frame, reported The Telegram in St. John’s June 23. As far as she knows, she was the first female from Queen Elizabeth Regional High School in Foxtrap, Nfld., to go to law school. She graduated from York’s Osgoode Hall Law School in 1988. In 1994, she became the first female partner at the St. John’s law firm of O’Reilly, Noseworthy. Just recently, Chaytor chalked up yet another first, becoming the first female president of the Canadian Lung Association in its more than 100-year-old existence.

CAP candidate running to make people think

Canadian Action Party (CAP) candidate Zeshan Shahbaz was a latecomer to the 2004 federal election campaign in Oakville, Ont., reported The Oakville Beaver June 23. “I’m the poorest candidate in Oakville,” he said. He’s also the only one who is not taking time off from his full-time job, as a broker in Toronto, while campaigning. It’s worth the effort, though, if it means that one of the parties, in the future, picks up on the ideas, said the Brampton-born, York University grad who earned a BA in 2000.

Election Web site predicts winners

A Web site begun as a thesis project “just for kicks” by a university student has become an important tool used by some parties in predicting how they are doing on the ground in their ridings, reported The Globe and Mail June 24., launched in 1999 by Milton Chan, uses information from e-mail submissions and raw intuition to predict which party will win each riding, and has done so in provincial and federal elections with a high success rate. The site is currently predicting 93 seats for the Liberals, 74 for the Conservatives, 17 for the NDP and 37 for the Bloc Québécois. The final 87 seats are in the “too close to predict” category, which won’t be finalized until the day before Monday’s election, said Chan, who is headed to Osgoode Hall Law School at York University in the fall.

 On air

  • Robert MacDermid, political science professor with York University’s Faculty of Arts, discussed the Conservative stance on health care and the two-tier system, on “Michael Coren Live” (CTS-TV), Toronto, June 24.
  • Rein Peterson, entrepreneurial studies director at York’s Schulich School of Business and a self-described family-business doctor, presented some prescriptions for businesses wracked by family feuds, on CBC Radio’s “The Current” June 24.
  • Ellen Bialystok, psychology professor with York University’s Faculty of Arts, discussed her study that finds bilingual children and older adults have sharper minds, on “The Morning Show” (CHQR-AM), Calgary, June 24.